Preview: Caribbean jazz cruises 2018

ECP's 2018 Caribbean jazz cruises are attracting top talent, writes Mark Gilbert, including Chick Corea, Kurt Elling, Ken Peplowski and Randy Brecker

A BBC TV news item pointed out in early August that ocean cruising is a holiday growth area. Jazz, it seems, shares the benefit.

Starting with well-known mainstream players around the turn of the century, Entertainment Cruise Productions (ECP) now attracts the biggest names in jazz across almost all styles, extreme avant-garde excepted – so far. Two of its 2018 Caribbean cruises – Blue Note At Sea (27 January-3 February) and The Jazz Cruise (3-10 February) – feature such top-drawer players as Chick Corea, David Sanborn, Charles Lloyd, Kurt Elling and Randy Brecker.

Blue Note At Sea, a collaboration between ECP, Blue Note Records and Blue Note Jazz Clubs, sails out of Ft. Lauderdale with ports of call in San Juan, St. Thomas, Coco Cay (Bahamas) and Labadee (Haiti). Like this year’s inaugural Blue Note At Sea, it will be hosted by bassist Marcus Miller (pictured right).

The lineup includes Chick Corea, Charles Lloyd (with his band The Marvels – Bill Frisell, Greg Leisz, Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland), Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Leslie Odom Jr, Robert Glasper, Ambrose Akinmusire, Lalah Hathaway, David Sanborn and more.

The programme will include main shows, signature events, late night shows and jam sessions from what Blue Note boss Don Was calls “the dream team of jazz at sea”. More at or call US & Canada – 844. 768.5157, international – 800.852.99872.

The Jazz Cruise ’18, the 17th such annual event, will focus on top names in straight-ahead jazz – some 100 of them – and adds a full-day stop in New Orleans that will include special events, concerts, restaurant offerings and tours. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band will board the ship for two shows.

To accommodate all tastes the onboard music programme includes old and new faces. John Clayton will lead the house All-Star Big Band for the first time, while Shelly Berg is again music director.

Cruise mainstays Houston Person, Jeff Clayton, Marcus Miller, John Pizzarelli, Jeff Hamilton, Ken Peplowski, Wycliffe Gordon, Gary Smulyan, Randy Brecker and Lewis Nash stay put, while performers returning after a break from the cruise include Arturo Sandoval, Monty Alexander, Joey DeFrancesco, Anat Cohen, Benny Green, Kurt Elling (pictured left by Brian Payne), Ann Hampton Callaway and Byron Stripling.

Among newcomers are The Cookers, Renee Rosnes, the Brecker Brothers Band Reunion (Randy Brecker, Will Lee and others), Sean Jones, The New York Voices, and Nicki Parrott. For more details go to or call US & Canada – 888.852.9987, international – 800.852.99872.

In early September ECP revised prices on The Jazz Cruise and Blue Note at Sea.

On The Jazz Cruise, Inside Staterooms are being offered at $1,975/person, down from $2,400/person.

On Blue Note At Sea, Inside Staterooms are at $1,975/person and there is 15% off the current pricing for Veranda and Ocean View Staterooms, the only remaining categories.

International guests also receive special benefits. For more information, see here: and

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